Rev. Robert Samuel McAllister
Survived 1830 – 1892
Born in Abbeville, South Carolina, McAllister was serving as the third minister of the Presbyterian Church in Thibodaux from 1856-1859.
Rev. McAllister left one of the most detailed accounts of the storm:
August 10, 1856
“On Sunday, Aug. 10, the weather got worse and by noon, it was dark outside with rain coming in torrents. The noon meal was served as usual but there was no talking at the table. “For while we all had a certain measure of misgiving, no one was yet willing to give expression to his fears.”
Everyone sat and ate dinner as normal, but they all knew something tragic was going to occur.
“At 3 p.m. the wind was howling. Lightning illuminated the sky and thunder rocked the island to its core. He likened it to the sound of distant guns. “We were shut up with no possibility of flight, on a narrow neck of land with two unbounded seas. In a strife of the elements like this, there would have been disaster even in midland; here on this sea-grit sand-bank it would be tame to say that we were in extreme jeopardy.”
At this point, the weather was horrific and no one had a way to escape it. McAllister describes it as…”on a narrow neck of land with two unbounded seas…”
Then the water stopped rising and stabilized for what Rev. McAllister said seemed like forever. “To my excited imagination it seemed that the elements were sitting in solemn council and engaged in debate as to what should be done with us.”
Then the water level started to fall. It was as if “the angel of the waters brought a reprieve from the high court of Heaven, and with a shout which echoed throughout the dark, unfathomed caves of oceans commanded the release of the prisoners.”
In 1862, McAllister traveled two thousand miles in a buggy on a missionary tour of the South.
“If we could have been conscious that we were about to die for adherence to some great principle, then we would have been upheld by the thought that we were leaving footprints on the sands of time, for the encouragement of some forlorn and shipwrecked brother. But alas, not one of us was at the post of duty; not a soul on the island had any business there.”